I know, this is a sensitive topic, so let me start out by saying kudos to you if you were/are able to breastfeed. It’s not an easy task, at all. And, if someone tells you it is easy, they’re a liar or at least the exception, not the rule.
Before AJ arrived, I made the declaration that I would only breastfeed and would pump as long as I could. After all, it was the fastest way for me to lose the baby weight from what I heard. Yes, that’s selfish, I know, but I said I would be honest, so judge away if you want.
I made it almost 3 months before I decided I couldn’t do it anymore. Let me tell you what a load of pressure it was off my shoulders. I remember the pain and the crying that came about every time AJ was hungry! Any time I knew he was crying because he was hungry, I would begin to cry because of the agony I felt feeding him. I also remember resenting him because I was just his personal dairy farm, not a mom. There were days I would only interact with him to feed him. This wasn’t the life I signed up for.
When AJ was in cluster feed (when babies want to feed every 30 minutes) mode after we first got home from the hospital it was the toughest. All he wanted to do was eat from me or use me as a personal pacifier. At the hospital I delivered at, they told us no pacifiers for at least 2-3 months. Being the good follower of rules that I am, I listened, because they were the experts, right? Wrong.
At AJ’s 2 day check up the nurse took one look at me and asked, “Are you okay?” I looked rough. Like I partied all night long rough. And, on top of that, I was hobbling around because to walk any faster than a snails pace was not the business. It hurt my business. My immediate response was “No”. At that point, it was almost 9am (we had the genius idea that we would be awake, so why not just make the earliest appointment possible). I had stayed up almost all night walking around the house trying to comfort AJ or trying to get him to breastfeed. Anything to get him to go to sleep. Finally, around 5am AJ fell asleep and so did I. I explained what was going on and the nurse so kindly gave us 2 pacifiers for AJ to use, because it turns out some babies are oral, according to the nurse, and aren’t even hungry. She also brought a lovely lactation specialist to speak to us.
The lactation specialist did a little exam and asked if I normally had no skin on a certain area of my breast. So, my question was, “where”? When I noticed that the little guy and pretty much sucked my skin raw, is when I realized why breastfeeding was so painful. The lactation specialist gave me a new routine to follow so I could heal. We went to more pumping so I could heal properly. Now I thought, okay, I can do this. Well, it wasn’t that bad, until the hubby went back to work and we had no more family staying with us to help. It was just AJ and I. I found it so difficult to pump just enough so he could eat. My routine was to breastfeed from the left. Once he was done, pump from the right. Feed him. Clean up the mess. Repeat. Again, just the dairy farm over here.
There was no sleeping when the baby slept or anything like that. All I did was try to keep producing enough milk for the child to survive another day. I was exhausted. I began to think “why did we think being parents was a good idea?” I was so unhappy. I hated being a “mom.” I wanted nothing to do with it at that point. I wanted my old life back. I hated it all so much. I was convinced that would be the last time I ever had a baby. Two was not an option at that point. Jokingly, my hubby would tell me, “it’s okay if you want to leave, I won’t think less of you.” He saw how terrible I was feeling. I had permanent RBF (resting bitch face) because I was so miserable.
I was so confused because from all of the articles and blogs I read and from the video on repeat in our hospital room, breastfeeding was supposed to be the easiest, most natural thing ever. I. Was. Pissed. All I could think was what a lie everything I read or saw was. Our pediatrician was the only one who said breastfeeding is the hardest thing ever. He even told us about 80% of women struggle with it. He told us anyone that came in and said breastfeeding was easy or going just swimmingly was the exception, not the rule. He gave us a little analogy that put it all into perspective. He said, “I love cake; cake is my favorite. But, if someone offers me a donut I’ll eat that too. I don’t think a donut is better than cake, but it’s still good.” He spoke in food analogies, so I was totally on board. He made me feel better about the choice we were about to make.
That was when we decided, as a husband and wife, that we would think about using formula. We researched and researched until we kept coming across the same articles. We went to Wholefoods. We went to CVS, all to compare ingredients in different types of formula. It was after several store visits, a ridiculous amount of Internet articles, and a bout with mastitis that we chose to go exclusively formula at 3 months. Gasp, I know! Only 3 months old, how could we?
Even though we knew formula was okay, it broke my heart. It made me feel like a failure. It made me feel like less of a mother. It took me a long time to feel okay with the decision we made. Of course I felt judged when people would ask if I was breastfeeding. I don’t think I could look people in the eye when they asked if I was breastfeeding and I had to respond with the dreaded “no, we are on formula.” My husband tried so hard to make me feel better. He told me babies wouldn’t survive without formula. All of the babies in the NICU need formula to survive. Mother’s who don’t produce milk at all need to use formula. Just some of the things you don’t think about. I literally felt sick to my stomach, but I couldn’t be unhappy any longer.
At some point I just got over it. AJ was eating. I was on the road to feeling happy and looking forward to being a parent. That was the most important thing for me. I was finally starting to feel happy about being a parent and not regretting it. In the end, he’s healthy and growing; that’s all that matters.
What ever you choose as a family, good for you. I know it was a tough decision for us. I do hope that if we decide on baby number 2, that breastfeeding works out the second time. If not, oh well, baby’s got to eat so formula it is. At least all of our research paid off and we have one we like. And, a bonus, I’ll get to enjoy my mimosas that much sooner.